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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, SEPTEMBER 13, 2013 PAGE 3A As the new year begins, JAO answers to 'Where are you?' By shari Wladis and Maura Weiner Shari Wladis, interim head of Jewish Academy of Orlando and Maura Weiner, JAO board president. question, "ayeka" with the numerical value of 36, reso- nated with us. What if God asked the Jewish Academy, "Where are you?" Jewish Academy is right here, /tn academic and cultural fixture in Central you going from here? This Florida. We are at the begin- ning of our Double-Chai an- niversary celebration! Jew- ish Academy of Qrlando was founded in 1977 to provide children in the Orlando area a kindergarten-eighth- grade Jewish day school option that focused on im- parting a strong academic As the Jewish Academy of Orlando staff gathered early in the morning before Meet & Greet, Rabbi Sharon Barr Skolnik, the new Hebrew/ Judaic curriculum oordi- nator, offered a prayer to begin the year. She spoke about the connection be- tween the number 36 and the very first question asked in the Torah by God to Adam. When Adam and Eve broke God's ruie and ate from the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, they felt guilty and hid from God. God then asked, "ayeka," "Where are you?" Although God is all-knowing, this question couldn't have been about location, but rather the bigger questions: Where are you? Where are foundation while instilling Jewish values. We continue to uphold the mission that our founders established 36 years ago. With 5774 just begin- ning, we teach about and celebrate Rosh Hashanah together as a community of learners. We are organizing the observance of Tashlich, the opportunity for stu: dents to ask themselves where they are and where they want to be. We are prov.iding an educational environment that allows JAO students to follow God's example and ask questions. We are encouraging dual- language thinkers, through our Hebrew language im- mersion program. Ayeka, where are you? We hope to find you at one of our Shabbat celebrations, held each Friday morning. We hope you will celebrate 36 years with us at our Double-Chai Gala Nov. 17. We hope you visit us at our campus in Maitland to learn more about our school and the u.nique learning environment that is provided to our stu- dents. We hope that the connection between God's question, "ayeka" and our double chai, "life" celebra- tions, will find meaning with you, and that you too will find ways to consider your connection to the Jewish Academy and to the Jewish community during this time of reflection. Editors Note: Heritage apologizes that this article was inadvertently left out of the Rosh Hashanah issue. Jewish Academy open house events for prospective families Take an informational tour highlighting "JAO's dif- ferentiated curriculum, its leading technology program, and the infusion of Hebrew and Judaica into everyday learning, Sunday, Oct. 6 from 10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. or Friday, Oct. 11, from 9 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. This visit includes Kabbalat Shabbat led by interna- tional recordingartistandspiritual leader, Beth Schafer. RSVP by phone: 407-647-0713 or email to admissions@ myjao.org. Candor and kishkes from Conservative rabbis By Richard A. Ries Prior to the S'lichot ser- vices this year,, which fell on a rainy Saturday on the last night of August, five distinguished Central Florida Conservative rabbis met at Congregation Ohev Shalom in Maitland for a panel dis- cussion open to the public. The rabbis--Joshua Neely, from Temple Israel; Richard Margolis from Melbourne; Moe Kaprow, a retired chap- lain from the U.S. Navy; and Aaron Rubinger and David Kay from Oh'ev Shalom-- were asked "What are the most pressing issues facing the Jewish community in the New Year?" The rabbis first spoke in alphabetical order: Rabbi Kaprow stressed a need for greater Klal Yisrael, or Jewish community. He argued against the balkaniza- ti0n of the Jewish people into branches so distinct that they have little communication with one another. He also argued that Jewish continu- ity continues to be the main issue of the Internet Age. He challenged Jews to make Judaism relevant and exciting to young people. Rabbi Kay's primary mes- sage was about authenticity. He said that all streams of Judaism were valid, yet "needless effort is spent arguing that one is more authentic than the others." Kay pointed out that histori- cally, there have always been "Judaisms," in the plural, that have responded to text and tradition, based on ge- ography, culture, community needs and other factors. He challenged Conservative Jews not to be defensive about their position, or call it "the fuzzy middle" between Orthodoxy and Reform. He argued that Conservative Jews should proudly present themselves as who they are--rather than who they are not. Yet Kay also Warned against what he calls "polite,""sani- tized" or "parlor room anti- Senitism." For example, in some circles, phrases like "mainstream media" can sometimes be subtext for "Jews," as many television anchors are Jewish (e.g. Wolf Blitzer, Dana Bash, and John King of CNN, Andrea Mitchell of NBC or Rachel Maddow on MSNBC) as are a number of personalities at NPR, such as Ina Jaffe, Robert Siegal, and Scott Simon. Whereas it is no longer acceptable to use the "N" word for African Americans or"kike" for Jews, Kay believes anti-Semitism survives through coded language. Rabbi Margolis exhorted the American Jewish commu- nity to t'heet chadash, renew thyself. He spoke specifically about federations and syna- gogues, lamenting that there are fewer federations across the nation than there were decades ago, and that many are "recycling old money" rather than raising new funds. There are only about 150 federations left in America today. Margolis spoke of"civil Judaism," 'a trio of Israel, and the Holocaust, and anti- Semitism that was stressed more than actual Torah. He charged contemporary Jews to focus on problems existing in world Jewry today. Margo- lis noted that we have "won" the Holocaust, meaning that there are such things as a National Holocaust Museum in Washington and compul- sory Holocaust education here in Florida and in other states. Margolis closed by stating that the business of the synagogue today is "to make Jews." L Rabbi Neely's focus was on "connectedness to the holy." He feels that among our pre- occupations with "civil Jew- ish" issues, holiness is often overlooked or simply ignored. Neely also expressed deep concern about civil rights in Israel, noting the power that the Orthodox wielded over the entire society in such is- sues as wedding ceremonies, and the rights of women to pray at the Western Wall. Neely closed by urging Jews to "rediscover their ancestral ability to argue tooth and nail with those whom we love." Rabbi Rubinger first ex- pressed concerti for the physi- calwell-being of Jews, particu- larly in Israel. He reminded the audience that Iran manufac- tures weapons and trains prox- ies to attack Israel. According to Rubinger, there are tens of thousands of rockets aimed at Israel at all times. Some social scientists believe that anti-Semitism is used in Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East to take peoples' minds off of their own suffering and lack of economic opportunity. Rubinger also spoke out against emphasis on rituals in Judaism at the expense of actual ethics and menschlikit. He denounced "far-right" Jews who might, on the one hand, be !nvolved in financial corruption and money-laun- dering scandals on the. one hand, and be overly concerned with levels of kashrut or how to wear tsi-tsit on the other. The panel then fielded some questions from the audience. One was about making Jewish day schools available to all. The rabbis seemed to be in agreement that even if it were free, most Jewish families would not send their children to a Jewish day school, and would deliberately opt for a public" school or all-faith private school. The rabbis suggested that summer camps, time spent in Israel, and better synagogue youth programs should be available to more Jewish children and teens. The discussion was not en- tirely a"love fest."A number of the rabbis deplored far-right, anti-Zionist American Jews who will "not sing 'Ha Tikvah' in public" but will fly to Israel to organize votes that help the Orthodox there. "Let us expose hypocrisy when we must," said Rubinger. Richard A. Ries is a gradu- ate student at UCF and a contributing writer to the Heritage. S'iich,)t of memories with Beth Am and SOJC Rebecca Hinkley of Congregation Beth Am holds the shofar that was blown at the conclusion of the S'lichot service. Few sounds are more mys- tical and breathtaking than the sound of the shofar heard daily during the month of Elul. And no shofar blast was perhaps more awe-inspiring than the blast heard at the conclusion of the S'lichot service. Congregation Beth Am in Longwood and the SoUthwest Orlando Jewish Congregation (SOJC) joined together for a very special S'lichot program and service on Saturday night, Aug.31 at Beth Am. This unique "S'Hchot of Memories" was a night to remember. Havdalah, marking the end of Shabbat with the aroma of spices, the sweet taste of wine, the light and .warmth of the flame and the sound of joyous prayer, was celebrated. Following Havdalah, Beth Am and SOJC hosted a sumptuous and sweet pre-S'iichot oneg and social before the start of the service, which featured the Uplifting chanting of SOJC's Cantor Doug Ramsay. During S'lichot, partici- pants of all ages experienced a unique opportunity to share their special High Holy Day stories and memories. It was a S'lichot that many will talk about as they relate their stories in the future. Julia Lustig, the new education- resource and family program- ming coordinator at Beth Am, had a bittersweet story. For her the High Holy Days are highlighted by Erev Rosh Hashanah dinner. "For the first time in 22 years I will not be in Louisville, KY, for the holidays. On Erev Rosh Hashanah more than 30 of my aunts, uncles and cousins would travel from New York to join my family at my grand- parents' home in Kentucky. We would all cook and eat and share stories of the past year and our plans for the coming year before heading off to services. While I am excited to be in Orlando this year, I will miss the family gathering." At the conclusion of the service, Eva Gaber sounded the shofar to herald the com- ing of Rosh Hashanah. Rabbi Hillel Skolnick of SOJC spoke of the importance of S'lichot. "As we approached the High Holidays there are a number of landmarks that reminded us just how close we were to a new year. The beginning of the month of Elul was one, hearing the shofar blown on a daily basis was another. S'lichot is a major landmark along that path. It reminded musically, liturgically and spiritually that Rosh Hashanahwas upon us and the time for repentance had arrived. That we had the ongoing opportunity to mark this moment with our friends from Congregation Beth Am only added to the significance of the experience." Rabbi Rick Sherwin, spiri- tual leader of Congregation Beth Am, shared his insight, "The S'lichot service takes place at the end of Shabbat, the one day each week we picture the world as ishould be, and consider ways to bring the world one step closer to the way it should be in the com- ing week. The purpose of the S'lichot service is to inspire us to bring ourselves one step closer to the way we should be in the coming year. I am honored that Congregation Beth Am and SOJC opened the High Holy Day season together. " Greg Alman, religious ac- tivities vice-president at Beth Am, commented, "The only 'charge' associated with this year's S'lichot service at Beth Am was the spiritual charge those in attendance felt at the end of this inspiring evening." For more information on the service schedule at Beth Am, consult the synagogue's website atwww.CongBethAm. org. Information on the activi- ties and schedule of services at SOCJ can be found at www. sojc.org. HANDYMAN SERVICE Handy man and General Maintenance Air Conditioning Electrical Plumbing Carpentry Formerly handled maintenance at JCC References available STEVE'S SERVICES Call Steve Doyle at (386) 668-8960